Five Friday Highlights: Traditions and Stereotypes

Global Stereotypes

Our world changes rapidly. Despite these accelerated changes, some deep-rooted global stereotypes persist as society evolves around them. Such is the case in this week’s selections. Venezuela and Brazil struggle to find lost power while stereotypes remain entrenched in Africa and Japan. Finally, a look at the world’s cities with the best work-life balance.

Venezuela Burning by Danielle DiMartino Booth explores the history behind Venezuela’s current crisis state. She asks, “How has Venezuela spiraled so far out of control in the wake of the commodities supercycle that built modern-day China, one that filled the coffers of resource-rich exporters worldwide?”

Challenging Africa’s Albino Stereotypes from the BBC explained the obstacles to acceptance people with albinism face in Africa. One woman (Celestine Mutinda) said, “Some of us are scared of walking along the streets of Nairobi. Sometimes while walking some people do say ‘this is money’. They believe that albinos can be sold. Some albinos end up isolating themselves because of discrimination.”

Adult Adoption in Japan from The Economist explains mukoyōshi, a practice almost unknown outside of Japan. This practice is one in which grown men are adopted by the families of the women they marry. This keeps the family line from ending and therefore prolongs their place in the business world. Read this fascinating article to learn about the 90% of adoptees in Japan: adults.

Finally, let’s learn about The 13 Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance in the World from Business Insider. Want to know which cities have the best balance between work and leisure time? Then this is the article for you! You’ll need to read it yourself to find out who is number one, but I’ll give you one hint: if you want great work-life balance, you’d better like Europe!

Have you read something this week that gave you a new perspective on another country? Email me to let me know!

Image Credit: 123rf/everythingpossible

Five Friday Highlights: Assumptions and Infrastructure

Global Highlights

In this week’s highlights, we look at assumptions people make about how things are going to be, a situation which can be especially challenging for those working in new countries. We talk a bit about infrastructure, and take a sip from a popular German beverage!

The “light work week” is commonly referred to in discussions of France’s labor climate. Currently, the work week is legally capped at 35 hours. In Working Nine to Four from The Economist, factors contributing to possible changes to this standard are discussed. As the article notes, “for much of the left, the 35-hour week remains not only a badge of progress but the mark of a preference: for shorter hours, more holidays and higher productivity” (the article goes on to point out that France has a higher productivity rate than Britain and Germany). Perhaps the French are struggling to let go of an assumption that the 35-hour week would have more permanence.

In global business, assumptions can provide false reassurance or create unnecessary reservations. {TWEET THIS}

As China Daily notes in China Has the Jobs, Now it Must Promote Them, China has no shortage of jobs for foreign workers. The article quotes Mary Wadsworth Darby as saying, she “believes China is already equipped with everything foreign workers would want, and now it is up to employers to educate their potential employees on what they can offer.” Interestingly, the article discusses how Chinese businesses need to understand expectations American workers have of being able to leave work to spend time with their families, an assumption an American worker could easily take to China only to be surprised when it is not met.

Infrastructure makes a huge difference in the ability to conduct business in a country, for obvious reasons. When I read Africa’s Telecoms Infrastructure: 2015 at a Glance from the itublog, I was reminded why it matters for organizations to plug away at creating infrastructure long before an established need exists. As the author notes, “The real impact of technological innovation is often not felt until long after market introduction – particularly in emerging markets.”

Equal opportunity for each gender matters. This is always a work in progress in Latin America. Women face conditions outlined by Technoserve in Helping Women Build Better Businesses in Latin America, such as “accessing finance without legal ownership or a guarantee” and  “joining traditionally male-dominated business networks.” Technoserve’s business accelerator program serves women in these countries, and was always cognizant that they “had to engage and convince business owners of the necessity of including a gendered lens in their business decisions.”

Lastly, to end on a light note and give you a “taste” of a culturally unique product, enjoy this article from the Wall Street Journal about Spezi, a popular mix of cola and citrus soda. Although an American quoted in the article characterized it as “carbonated swamp juice,” it is a hit in Germany, and some bottlers plan to expand to France and Britain. Brewer Sebastian Priller said, “It gives you the feeling of a Bavarian holiday without the alcohol.” Would you give Spezi a try?

What have you read this week that made you think differently or crave the taste of a different country? Drop me a line at melissa@lamsonconsulting.com and let me know!